I recently shared a link on Facebook about Coloradan school cooks who are preparing meals from scratch for their students. I’m interested in this, and am particularly intrigued by how this could connect with schools that subscribe or participate in Community Garden programs. Its a sticky-wicket. When much of the harvest occurs when the kids are on summer vacation what does one do with all the good, wholesome produce? I’ve not properly researched this and I’ll bet there are some clever solutions out there, so please, e-mail me with whatever you know about the subject. In the meanwhile, I’ll tell you how we deal with the excessive abundance that we’re not able to consume as fresh produce, i.e., food preservation:
- Zucchini. We grate it and freeze it. It goes into zucchini bread or curries, which we adore.
- Tomatoes. Yes we can! We can them as pieces, whole and as juice. They will make their contribution as a base to soups, stews, curries, pasta dishes and, on non-school days, Bloody Marys.
- Beans. Freeze them; later to be eaten as a side dish or a stew or curry ingredient.
- Garlic. Since I’ve mentioned stews and curries several times I might as well give you the drill. We go to an Asian Market and buy a lot of fresh ginger-root at half the price of the local supermarket. We then puree it in a food processor with the garlic we grow and freeze it in ice cube trays. Each ‘cube’ is equal to the normal recipe amount for a standard curry. When it comes time to prepare the curry, that will be sauteed on the stove and then, left to simmer and cook on the top of the wood-stove, along with all the other preserved vegetables its very easy work.
- Cabbage. Freeze some. Make sauerkraut with the rest of it. I’m not a vegan. I like sauerkraut and cheese sandwiches, or macaroni and cheese with a side of sauerkraut. Comfort food worthy of a gastronome.
- Cucumbers. What else? Pickles and relishes. I’ve designed a recipe which I call Saigon Relish which combines Cilantro to a typical relish recipe. It’s good with most everything but can be combined with white wine as a reduction sauce served over poached or grilled fish (particularly salmon) and it contributes a surprising elegance to something that can be done in 5 minutes.
- Grapes. Jelly and sherry
- Blueberries. Freeze for muffins in the dead of winter.
- Basil. We grow three row of its and make gallons of pesto.